“I’m so excited that this is finally before us!” exclaimed a delighted Escondido councilmember Olga Diaz at the July 17 council meeting, when the council voted unanimously to pursue a feasibility study for the city joining with several other North County cities in procuring power for local residents.
This type of arrangement is known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) or municipal aggregation. It allows municipalities to obtain energy on behalf of residents and businesses from an alternative supplier, but still getting delivery of the power through an existing utility.
Diaz recalled that it had been several years ago that a “CCA proposal first surfaced. A meeting was held in Encinitas attended by representatives from various cities. “I remember going to that meeting. Every city sent representatives. I was by myself.”
The council voted unanimously to approve an request for proposal (RFP) for a joint Community Choice Aggregation/Energy (CCA/CCE) technical feasibility study, with the City Manager authorized to negotiate a cost sharing agreement between Escondido, Vista and San Marcos.
The staff will present the results of the RFP to the council at a later date following an evaluation of all proposal received. Releasing the RFP doesn’t obligate the city to participate in such a program.
Last month the council approved the FY 2019/2020 operating budget, which included a $50,000 allocation to prepare the CCA/CCE technical feasibility study.
Diaz noted that there are models of the program all over the country to study. “After all these years later to see this finally come forward is very satisfying,” she said. “It’s hard to make a decision without a feasibility study. I think this is exactly the kind of work to make sure our climate action plan is as strong as we can make it. I like the idea that we can analyze revenue that might be generated for the city. And create revenue sources that are diverse. I’m very happy to see this move forward.”
Councilmember Mike Morasco commented, “Doing the study and getting as much information as possible helps us out. I’m taking with a grain of salt whether it will be a benefit to all consumers. Consumers from other states who have utilized other programs have wound up having enormous costs and burdens on bureaucracies. It’s caused a lot of consternation. Hopefully this feasibility will be done correctly.”
CCA programs are surging among several cities in the state. There are 19 CCA programs in the Golden State, without another dozen mulling doing the same.
Under a CCA/CCE, these communities are in control over where their electricity will come from, whether to purchase electricity on the market, or more importantly, to build local renewable energy resources in their respective communities. A local CCA/CCE, if determined to be technically and financially feasible, would procure energy from renewable sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by residential and commercial sectors of the Escondido community. Furthermore, a CCA/CCE could provide substantial environmental and economic co-benefits and provide the opportunity to fund and implement a wide variety of energy related programs of interest to the community.
Missing Link Project Completed
The council was notified of the completion of the Escondido Creek Bikeway Missing Link Project which constructed a new separated Class IV Bikeway (Cycle Track) and a Class I Bike Path through the city’s core to fill a gap between the Escondido Creek Trail on North Broadway at Woodward Avenue, and the Inland Rail Trail on Quince Street just north of the Escondido Transit Center. Motorists driving near the City Hall will recognize the large green plastic posts [called bollards] that created safe bicycle lanes, and the fact that parking next to Grape Day Park was changed from parallel angle parking to on-street parking to make room for the bike lanes.
Councilmember Diaz issued a “big thank you!” to city staff for completing the project. “I’m grateful. All the improvements over the past decade or so have been hard work on staff on the community. I like how it looks now. I know it was disruptive with all the green posts. But I actually see people using it!”
Diaz recalled the “very first time we did a community bike ride on the creek.” They were issued a police escort because their safety was a concern. “My son was 3-years-old. News articles were written about the crazy idea to beautify the creek, but eventually people bought into the vision. There was great public and private support for it. I’m glad I lived long enough to see this. After I’m gone you must continue!”
The final leg of the project the “missing link” part derived from the February 14, 2018 council resolution awarding the bid for the project to Eagle Paving Company, Inc., for $1,042,200. This It was partially funded with a $1,092,000.00 TransNet Active Transportation Program Grant.
Over the next 18 months the features of the project took shape, including the bollard-separated two-way Class IV Bikeway (Cycle Track); a new bike bridge over the Escondido Creek next to the existing North Broadway bridge; a new traffic signal at North Broadway and Woodward Avenue; and a new traffic signal for the crosswalk on North Broadway next to Grape Day Park.
Also part of the meeting was a presentation by Mayor Paul McNamara to two muralists, Leslie Mayer and Cindy Peters, designating July Leslie Mayer and Cindy Peters Day. Mayer has lived in Escondido for four decades and Peters was born in Escondido in 1955.
The two artists spent the last eight months hand painting the 180 ft. wall at Escondido Community Child Development Center, located on 9th Avenue where, according to City statistics, over 20,000 cars a day.
The mural, said the mayor, “is a walk through Escondido’s history and culture from San Pasqual Valley to Lake Hodges to Lawrence Welk in the north. In between are things that remind us of the old days such as Ups and Downs Roller Rink, Cruisin’ Grand, the Joor Muffler Man and the Safari Park.
The proclamation concluded, “we acknowledge volunteers, like Leslie Mayer and Cindy Peters who generously give their time and talents to help improve the lives of others. Their acts of kindness help build a better and brighter future, and remind us that we all have a role to play in making our community safe, clean, and efficiently run.”
The mayor added, “They captured the essence of Escondido. They really did! They captured all aspects of our city. It’s amazing. It’s really a great mural! I hope to see them do a lot more for us in the future.”
City to issue RFP for Community Choice Aggregation energy study, by David Ross, Times Advocate, July 26, 2019.